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 CTO.org - News Archive - January 8, 2018
New technology will let phones closely control any USB charger. Also at CES: Authentication helps block USB chargers from frying your laptop.

The fired engineer says the tech giant uses "illegal hiring quotas" to fill its staff with women and minority candidates.

At CES 2018, startup Byton shows off its first car, an electric SUV with an array of modern tech, from 5G to self-driving.

The V30 dons a new vibrant pink shade at the annual tech show.

Connected fridges, cameras, speakers, washers, dryers and even smart dishwashers fought for attention at CES 2018.

Google Assistant-enabled touchscreens unveiled Monday at CES are made for your kitchen countertop and will compete against Amazon's Echo Show.

Sony has announced two new sound bars, the Z9F and the X9000F, which will offer simulated Atmos effects at a fraction of the cost of the previous model.

The successor to Sony's superb 2017 OLED-based TVs is very similar to its predecessor, and that's a good thing.

The LSPX-A1 is a novel short-throw projector with a marble top, aluminum legs and a wooden shelf. Really.

At CES, one of our favorite LCD TVs of 2017 gets even bigger this year.

Sony's UBD-X700 4K Blu-ray player is a cut down version of its premium players and now features Dolby Vision compatibility.

Sony has introduced three new in-ear wireless sports headphones: The WI-SP500, WI-SP600N and the totally wireless WF-SP700N.

The new business monitor it showed at CES 2018 raises and lowers the camera at the touch of a button.

The highly rated Sony MDR-1A has a successor and it's coming this spring for $300.

Control multiple smart devices, check on your day, get the news and more with a single command.

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Echo Dot is designed to work seamlessly in every room of your house, and right now you can get $20 off your order when you buy 3 Dots, or get one Dot free when you buy 6. Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, read audiobooks from Audible, and more. New Alexa "skills" are being created all the time." If you're in the market for a few Dots, jump over to Amazon and claim your discount while it lasts.

Samsung unveiled its take on the collaborative digital whiteboard at CES today, launching its Flip display.

Digital whiteboards are getting a lot of attention from a number of large vendors, including Google, Microsoft and Cisco. All aim to replace traditional flip charts and whiteboards with touchscreen-enabled hardware designed to ease collaboration during meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Up to four different participants can interact with a Flip whiteboard at the same time, using either their fingers or a stylus to create or annotate content. Designed for use in meeting rooms, the 55-in. 4K display can switch from portrait to landscape orientation depending on company needs. It includes USB ports to enable connection to PCs and mobile devices, as well as wireless connectivity." 

The launch of a big Microsoft Windows 10 update like the Fall Creators Update isn'-™t the end of a process '-” it'-™s really just the beginning. As soon as a major update is released, Microsoft quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

Here we'-™ve summarized what you need to know about every Windows 10 update being released to the public. First come updates to the currently shipping version of Windows 10 '-” version 1709, known as the Fall Creators Update '-” with the most recent updates on top. (Note that the Fall Creators Update is on a phased rollout, so you may not have received it yet.) Below that are updates to version 1703, known as the Creators Update. For each build, we'-™ve included the date of its initial release and a link to Microsoft'-™s announcement about it.

Office 365 subscribers always have the latest version of Microsoft Office '-” currently Office 2016. They also get more frequent software updates than those who have purchased Office 2016 without a subscription, which means subscribers have access to the latest features, security patches and bug fixes. But it can be hard to keep track of the changes in each update and know when they'-™re available. We'-™re doing for you, so you don'-™t have to.

Following are key updates to Office 365 for Windows since Office 2016 was released in September 2015 '-” all the 2017 updates and the most important ones from 2016 and late 2015, with the latest releases shown first. We'-™ll add info about new updates as they'-™re rolled out.

Even while we accept that coding skills are key to some future employment, Apple is under some pressure to improve parental controls to help prevent children from becoming hooked on their phones. Apple already provides some protection parents can use to limit their children'-™s smartphone use. Here'-™s what you need to know:

What are Apple's parental controls?

Apple has similar controls for iPads, iPhones, Macs and the Apple TV. Apple calls these Restrictions, and you can use them to block or limit apps and features that children can access on their device. Among other things, these tools can restrict use of Safari, the camera, Siri, FaceTime, AirDrop, CarPlay and individual apps.

Microsoft'-™s hasty Meltdown/Spectre patches," released late on Jan. 4, have started baring their fangs. Complaints about Win10 Fall Creators Update cumulative update KB 4056892 and Win7 Monthly Rollup KB 4056894 resulting in blue screens '-” particularly on AMD Athlon, Sempron, Opteron and Turion processors '-” started appearing shortly after the patches were released.

IT pilot fish's former co-worker is job hunting and asks fish for a favor: Will you let me use you as a reference?

"I was quite willing -- happy even -- to do so," says fish.

"He went through the normal interviewing and application process for one particular job. HR went through the normal reference-check process, where I was totally honest. He was hired and started the new job.

"A few weeks later, I got a call from a recruiter from that company. I was a bit surprised, because I had already given the reference and he'd started the job.

"But it turns out they weren't looking for a reference. They were trying to recruit his references.

Word has always been the workhorse app of the Microsoft Office suite, and Word 2016 is no different than past versions. Nearly everyone who uses Office ends up using Word at some point, whether it be for writing memos, typing up agendas, creating reports, crafting business correspondence or any of a thousand other uses.

The current version, Word 2016, was released in late 2015 when the entire Office suite was upgraded, and by now many businesses have moved to it. But although you may have upgraded to the latest version, you might be missing out on some worthwhile features introduced in Word 2016 for Windows '-” that'-™s what we'-™ll look at in this story.

Amid the panicked response this week to the news of significant, though not-yet-exploited, vulnerabilities in the vast bulk of the world's microprocessors, it went almost unnoticed that most browser makers responded by updating their wares in the hope of fending off possible web-based attacks.

The Google-driven revelations - it was members of the search firm's Project Zero security team who identified the multiple flaws in processors designed by Intel, AMD and ARM - were to go public next week, on Jan. 9, this month's Patch Tuesday. At that time, a coordinated effort by multiple vendors, from OS developers to silicon makers, was to debut with patches to protect, as best could be done without replacing the CPU itself, systems against flaws grouped under the umbrella terms of Meltdown and Spectre. That plan went out the window when leaks started to circulate earlier this week.

Have you ever wished you could clone yourself? Imagine how much you could accomplish.

The future of A.I. will make something kind of like that possible. By scanning your face and voice and observing how you talk and what you know, future A.I. could build a virtual assistant that'-™s a virtual you.

Sounds like science fiction. But one company is already working on it.

The creator of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum is exploring ways to fix an innate issue with the technology - the inability for processing capacity to effectively scale.

And the Ethereum Foundation is seeking outside developers to help solve the scaling problem.

Ethereum and Hyperledger are the world's leading blockchain platforms and the basis for a myriad number of applications, from cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum's Ether to "smart" or self-executing online contracts.

Last night Microsoft released KB 4056894, the 2018-01 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7. Spurred by early disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, Microsoft has done yeoman work getting the software part of the patches pushed out the Automatic Update chute.

That said, Windows patches are only part of a very formidable picture.

Where we stand with Windows patches

As of this morning, all of the supported versions of Windows have Meltdown-related patches, except for Windows 8.1. In particular:


What'-™s the problem?

Taking advantage of a vulnerability that has been around for 20 years, Meltdown and Spectre exploit a CPU performance feature called '-'speculative execution.'-" Speculative execution exists to improve computer speed by enabling the processor to work on multiple instructions at once, sometimes in non-sequential order.

The Professional Surge Protector CSP300WUR1" safeguards common home and office devices, such as computers and electronics, by absorbing spikes in energy caused by storms and electrical power surges. Designed for convenience, the portable CSP300WUR1 is ideal for travelers. It provides 600 joules of protection, has three surge-protected outlets, and a folding wall tap plug. Two USB ports (2.1 Amp shared) charge personal electronics, including smartphones, digital cameras, MP3 players, and other devices." A Limited-Lifetime Warranty ensures that this surge suppressor has passed high quality standards in design, assembly, material or workmanship and further protection is offered by a $50,000 Connected Equipment Guarantee. It currently averages 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, where its typical list price of $21.95 has been reduced 41% to just $12.99. See the discounted" CSP300WUR1 on Amazon.

Database admin pilot fish at this state law-enforcement agency is spending too much of his time dealing with an unruly mainframe database system that's less than a year old.

"The problems were constantly causing me to get called in at night," says fish. "Sometimes it was the database software and sometimes it was the application.

"There was no real overtime -- indeed, my pay title did not allow for overtime -- but my boss allowed me to take unofficial compensatory time off."

Early one afternoon, a uniformed police officer comes to see fish. He explains that he's from Internal Affairs, and says he's there to investigate a report that fish sometimes leaves work early.

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BYTE is starting a new series, to bring back the issues you loved in print from 1975 to 1998. Initially we have the first two issues and four others from 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Security experts urge companies to implement two-factor authentication, VPNs, and graduated permission levels to better protect customer data from hackers.

Microsoft admits that it doesn't encrypt all server-to-server communications, opening the way for the NSA and others to access the data flow.

Affordable Care Act site has faced a relatively low volume of attacks, compared with other federal websites.

Google's Gmail app for iPad and iPhone gets new features and iOS 7's design language.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels announces PostgreSQL database service, new instance types, use of solid state disk to speed I/Os.

As software eclipses hardware, it's dawning on enterprises that they need API programs. Here's where to begin.

Authors Guild's claim of copyright infringement gets shot down in a surprise ruling.

The goal is allow home monitoring devices and mobile health apps communicate more easily healthcare providers.

Google's personal assistant software gets upgraded to better manage owners' lives and understand natural language requests.

Android smartphones owners can now pay for goods and services by tapping their device to Isis terminals at 1.3 million locations nationwide.

LinkedIn pushes customized content with the integration of news curation app Pulse for desktop and mobile versions.

Hacker grabbed 860,000 passwords for fun, but promises not to leak or use them to harm people.

VMware wants to move into cloud computing? Guess what, Amazon's moving into desktop virtualization.

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Nicomi Stewart, a mother in Rochester, New York, is '-'disgusted'-" after an automated call sent to her phone from the city'-™s school district mispronounced her daughter'-™s name as a racial slur.

You may soon get to say a lot more on Twitter. The social media giant announced it is testing a longer character limit. The change will extend the current 140 characters to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Users won'-™t see this change right away, though. Only a small percentage will be testing it at first, and according to the company, it is just a test and there is no guarantee this change will be available to everyone. Via Business Insider:" http://www.businessinsider. ...

Mac OS High Sierra (macOS 10.13)." As the new name suggests, it'-™s just a refinement of last year'-™s Mac OS Sierra. In fact," you" could sum up what's new in an article about as short as" this one.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)?

Facebook has a "realistic opportunity" to enter China in 2018, Mizuho analyst James Lee wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. Lee came to the conclusion after meeting "various industry contacts" in China during a recent trip. Facebook's recent appointment of an executive to manage relations with China will help the company "understand the regulatory requirement and negotiate Facebook's operating structure in China," said Lee in the note, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider.

Apple is expected to include wireless charging as a core feature in the iPhones it launches on...

Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone is nearly upon us. Here's everything we expect from what could be Apple's most important product in years.

Apple's App Store is getting a major update in iOS 11, and it's going to make finding new apps far better.

Equifax was hacked and lost the information of 143 million Americans, and they need to tell us how.

Apple's iPhone 8 is nearly upon us, but not everyone is psyched. Here are the best alternatives for Apple's upcoming iPhone.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is a wonderful smartphone, but its high price is a tough pill to swallow.

Yahoo's David Pogue has a sneaky way you can create a universal link to a Facebook item so that you can send or post to anyone.

There are some gadgets that are just too cool for us Americans.

More laptop makers are pushing the limits of design and performance, but high-resolution panels are hurting their batteries.

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